THE POWER OF ONE: SHOPPING MALLS AND RETAILERS MUST JOIN FORCES TO PREVAIL
Shopping Centre News|November 2020
The session ‘The Show Must Go On‘ at PRC, brings some dynamic developers and retailers from the shopping mall and retail industry that are already on the fast track – to discuss recent developments and plans ahead…

Shopping centres – the hubs of economic, commercial and social activity in India – faced an unprecedented situation this year. A pandemic, lockdown, unlocking phase, a second and a third wave of the virus severely crippled the industry. Malls were shut for months and when they finally re-opened, it was a kind of a new beginning for them. While the forced shutdown due to COVID-19 halted many developments, once malls were back in business, and consumers started to return, the industry adopted the grand old adage ‘the show must go on’ and focused on the new normal, consumer safety and convenience.

At the ‘The Show Must Go On’ session of the Phygital Retail Convention, many dynamic developers and retailers from both the Shopping Centre and Retail Industries discussed recent developments and the plans ahead, plans which are already on the fast track. The session was moderated by Rahul Saraf, MD, Forum Group. The panelists included:

Ashwin Puri, Director, Lake Shore

Dalip Sehgal, CEO, Nexus Malls

Anjan Chatterjee, Founder & MD, Speciality Restaurants

Neelendra Singh, MD, Adidas India

Pramod Arora, Chief Growth & Strategy Officer, PVR

Abhishek Bansal, ED, Pacific Malls

Retail Will Prevail by Collaborating

Rahul Saraf, MD, Forum Group, started the discussion by highlighting the current situation of the industry and its road to recovery period in terms of business and footfalls. He asked panelists to talk about the key learnings and experiences they had taken from the pandemic and how they are utilizing it to prepare themselves for the coming months.

Dalip Sehgal, CEO, Nexus Malls said, “The last six months have been life changing for all of us in many ways. The learning and lessons are still not over and a lot will be added to the list in the coming six months. There are four or five key things which have happened in this period and all of them are important in terms of how we look at the future.

Collaboration: Collaboration is the first and foremost objective. It is due to the ‘Power of One’ we have managed to do the comeback in such a short period of time.

No Single Theory: The second learning has been that ‘there is no single theory that works in a crisis. People have to adapt and change as per situation. There is no single theory to revive the business, one must look into new perspectives and corners for the business to fall into place. Different things need to be done differently, and therefore we dealt with the situation of our each and every shopping mall as per requirement and demand. Strategies implemented for Elante Mall in Chandigarh will not work in the mall in Pune. One needs to be very specific in terms of what needs to be done. One size doesn’t fit all and hence need to be very careful in understanding the market need. Therefore the marketing plans, budget, sales recovery all of it and that detailing is what is required.

Change in Retail Paradigms: The third thing is that retail paradigms have changed drastically in the last six months, the cost structure being one of them. It has permanently changed for restaurants, cinemas and it is very important to understand the new cost structure. Malls and cinemas are very high capex cost businesses and we need to figure out how we are going to spread the assets much more than what we do today. The utilisation of the mall currently is 30-35 percent of the time, which means 60 percent of the `1200 crore asset is just sitting on the ground. Going forward we will need to collaborate and utilize more assets.

Change in Narrative: The show must go on, but the narrative must change. Without implementing these changes into their portfolios, it will be tough for the industry and therefore all the players must act on this accordingly. Being Omnichannel is one such buzz, which everyone is looking at as if now. One should not get carried away by the change happening around them now and in coming six months. Once the things will start to open up, the consumer behavior will change again. Issues are short term but relationship and reality are long term.

Opportunities for Collaboration

The key areas/perspective for the collaboration can be between retailers/ shopping malls or retailer/technological service providers or retailers/retailers currently.

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